CF 093: Big Discs Can Disappear, Chronic Pain & Chiropractic Success, The First Week Says A Lot About The Fourth

Today we’re going to talk about the resorption of lumbar disc herniations (Hint: lots of the big ones don’t need surgery at all!), we’ll talk about chronic low back pain and the success of chiropractic, and we’ll talk about how, after the first visit, you might can tell how well your patient is going to do in the long-term. 

But first, here’s that sweet sweet bumper music

Chiropractic evidence-based products
Integrating Chiropractors
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OK, we are back and you have found the Chiropractic Forward Podcast where we are making evidence-based chiropractic fun and accessible while we make you and your patients better all the way around. Welcome, I’m Dr. Jeff Williams and I’m your host for the Chiropractic Forward podcast.  

You have tippy-toed quietly into Episode #93 and I do appreciate your keeping it down for me. I’ve been a little tired here lately. 

Now if you missed last week’s episode on the history of chiropractic, you need to  make sure you don’t miss that. It was really fun episode to put together. Especially for a history junkie/nerd like myself. I believe here recently September 18 to be exact, it was the anniversary of DD Palmer inventing chiropractic. We talked a little about whether he invented it or borrowed it or whatever. We talked about that in that episode. Pretty interesting. 

Other more recent episodes you need to be aware of would be the Closing Patients episode. Go learn more about that garbage please. It’s important. 

Also waaaayyyy back (old man river) episode 13 was on Debunking the Myth that chiropractors cause strokes. Enough of that trash. It’s not true and you need to know why, how, when, and how to tell others that it’s bunk info. 

For you older chiros, bunk means bad info. 

One other I think new listeners should go back and find would be about 6-8 weeks ago, episode 90 I believe. It was our mini-class basically on Decoding Chronic Pain. What priceless info. It’s like you went to a seminar and got all of the information for free straight from Dr. Anthony Nicholson. He’s crazy smart. 

Or the way they say it in Boston….he’s wicked smaht. 

I’m currently getting ready to head to St. Louis for the Forward ’19 seminar. It’s all a part of the FTCA Facebook Group and website group. By the time this episode airs, it will already have come and gone but you know I’ll tell you all about it next week. 

I’m looking forward to meeting a lot of the folks from the group that I see interacting with each other all of the time. I’m looking forward to networking and bouncing ideas off each other as well. 

There may be some cocktails in the mix as well so, you know, there’s that too. 

I’m still going through the DACO studying. I have part II coming up on November 9th. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just get a Diplomate because you took all 300 hours and passed all of the tests and quizzes along the way? 

If you ask the older guys that did the DABCO several years ago, they’ll tell you I’m whining and I need to just shut up because they had it way worse. And you know what? They’d be right. They DID have it way worse. Still, I have a very busy practice, I have a 47 year old brain that doesn’t retain the amount it once did, and I’ve been studying for the part I and the Part II during my free time since probably May. And you know what? I’m tired of studying. Lol. 

I’m ready for it to be over and done with. Geez. Stress, studying, sustained over a long period of time….there’s absolutely a reason that we don’t have a large number of doctors getting the specialization diplomates. It’s carried out over too long of a period. But that’s just fussing. The hours of actual class have been amazing learning. I have stood under the niagara falls of knowledge nuggets people. I swear. 

I’m all in. I’m ten times better than I ever thought I was and for some things, I thought I was pretty put together. I spent a lot of years putting together and taking apart different aspects of a low back exam. I was already coming into it very much up on lumbar differential diagnosis. I’m still better than I was. 

I knew jack squat in regard to the shoulder compared to what I now know. Same goes for the hip, knee, and on down the line. 

If you need some help getting some info and starting down the track of that Ortho Diplomate, let me know. Send me and email at [email protected] and I’ll be glad to do what I can to get you going. 

We’ll get to the paper on whether discs can resorb in just a sec but first, It’s good to support the people that support you don’t you think? Well, ChiroUp certainly supports evidence-based practices. 

If you’re a regular listener of our podcast, you know I used it since about June of 2018. Let me tell you about it. 

ChiroUp is changing the way we practice by simplifying patient education and here’s what I mean: 

In a matter of seconds, you can send condition-specific reports to your patients with recommendations for treatment, for their activities of daily living, & for their exercises. 

You can see how this saves you time – no more explaining & re-explaining your patient’s care, because they have access to it at their fingertips. 

You can be confident that your patients are getting the best possible care, because the reports are populated based on what the literature recommends and isn’t that re-assuring? All of that work has been done FOR you. 

There are more than 1000 providers worldwide using ChiroUp to empower their treatments, patients, & practice – Including myself! **Short testimony**

If you don’t know what it’s all about or you’d like to check it out, do yourself a favor and go to today to get started with your FREE TRIAL – Use code Williams99 to pay only $99/month for your first 6 months

That’s and super double secret code Williams99

Item #1

Let’s start the research part of the show with one called “Incidence of Spontaneous Resorption of Lumbar Disc Herniation: A Meta-Analysis” by M Zhong, JT Liu, H Jiang, et. al(Zhong M 2017). and published in Pain Physician in 2017. Not new enough to play the Hot stuff sound byte and not old enough to sing old man river to you. Just somewhere in between so we’ll just play some random sound byte for you here. Lol. 

You know me…..heavy on the entertainment part here. 

Anyway, here’s Why They Did It

the wanted to analyze the incidence of spontaneous resorption after conservative treatment of low back discs using CT and MRI imaging. 

How They Did It

This paper was a meta-analysis, meaning they took information from a whole bunch of previously done papers and compiled the best information that could be extracted from them to come up with their findings. 

They used a search of the literature from 1990 all the way through 2015. That’s 15 years for those of you that didn’t take mathematics in school. They used very common databases called PubMed, Embase, and the Cochrane Library to find these papers for inclusion. 

What They Found

The overall incidence of spontaneous resorption was 66.66%. Oddly enough they say that the incidence in the UK was a whopping 82% while in Japan it was only 62%. What the hell gives there? I’m not worldly enough to know the significant differences in lifestyles of those two countries to figure out why that would be. Maybe one of you world travelers can offer us some suggestions. Email me. I’d love to hear it. 

Wrap It Up

Wrapping up this paper the authors conclude, “The phenomenon of LDH reabsorption is well recognized. Because its overall incidence is now 66.66% according to our results, conservative treatment may become the first choice of treatment for LDH.”

Now what do I personally know about this? I know that was your next question that was just on the tip of your tongue so I’m going to answer it for you. 

We know, and this comes through the DACO teaching, that a couple of things can give you  clue to whether or not a herniation will eat itself. That sounds like will ferrell doing harry carry on saturday night live. If you were a hot dog….would you eat yourself? I know I would. Lol. 

Anyway….Lord help me. Anyway, a couple of things:

The make up of the herniation

The extent of migration

If there has been endplate damage / modic changes, with that, you might see some trash or garbage inside the herniation on MRI. It may look speckled. When it looks speckled, it is more stubborn and less likely to go away on its own.

On the other hand, if it’s made up of more nuclear material, it’s smoother in appearance and more likely to be able to be reabsorbed. 

On top of that, when a herniation has more than a 4mm migration, it’s further out there and the body is more likely to recognize it as an issue and more likely to do something about it by breaking it down and getting rid of it. 

This is EXCELLENT news for people with these big discs that you may have at one time thought were most certainly surgical. I used to think they were. I think a lot of surgeons probably still think they are. But not all of them are. That’s a researched fact at this point. 

Item #2

This one is called “Can patient reactions to the first chiropractic treatment predict early favorable treatment outcome in persistent low back pain?” by I Axen, A Rosenbaum, and T Wren, et. al. and was published in Journal of Manipulative Physiological Therapeutics in 2002(Axen I 2002). Old Man River….

Why They Did It

To investigate whether 3 distinct patterns of reactions to chiropractic care predict early favorable treatment outcomes in patients suffering persistent low back pain. 

What They Found

OF the 115 patients int eh most favorable prognostic group, 84% reported to be definitely improved but the 4th visit vs. 63% of the 384 in the intermediate group, and 30% of the 116 in the least favorable prognostic group. 

Wrap It Up

“Among chiropractic patients with persistent low back pain, it is possible to predict which patients will report definite improvement early in the course of treatment.”

Basically, if you’re getting good response in the first week or so, game on. That patient is likely to have an excellent outcome. 

On to the paper on chronic low back pain patients being referred form a spine surgeon it just a second. Let’s try our best to pay the bills first. 

Let’s talk about GoChiroTV. GoChiroTV is a patient education system for your office that actually saves you money. Instead of spending money on cable TV or looping a DVD over and over in your lobby, the bite-sized videos are specifically made to inform your patients about the importance of chiropractic, healthy living, and to encourage referrals while, at the same time, presenting the benefits of all of the different products and services that you offer. Specific to your office.

That’s right. It works by using a tailor-fit video playlist that only promotes the products and services offered in your specific practice. Not only that but the videos are updated automatically on a weekly basis so there’s no need to manually update your playlist AND you don’t have to learn any complicated software. You get to just set it and forget it. And don’t we busy doctors need just that?

Listeners of the Chiropractic Forward Podcast can use the promo code CFP19 at checkout to get 15% off all subscriptions. That’s CFP19, which also comes with a 45-day free trial to see if it’s right for your practice. Your discounted rate will be locked in for as long as you have a subscription.

Go visit to check out the demo reels and get started on your free trial.

Item #3

This last item is called “An observational study on trajectories and outcomes of chronic low back pain patients referred from a spine surgery division for chiropractic treatment” by Brigitte Wirth et. al. and it was published in Chiropractic & Manual Therapies in 2019(Wirth B 2019). There it is fresh outta the oven and slapped on your plate for gobblin’ purposes. 

Why They Did IT

The aim of this study was to describe the trajectories and outcomes of patients with chronic LBP referred from the spine surgery division to the chiropractic teaching clinic.

How They Did It

  • The patients filled in an 11-point numeric rating scale (NRS) for pain intensity and the Bournemouth Questionnaire (BQ) (bio-psycho-social measure) at baseline and after 1 week, 1, 3, 6 and 12 months.
  • The Patient’s Global Impression of Change (PGIC) scale was recorded at all time points apart from baseline
  • The data was analyzed using linear mixed model analysis and repeated measures ANOVA

What They Found

  • Between June 2014 and October 2016, 67 participants (31 male, mean age = 46.8 ± 17.6 years) were recruited, of whom 46 had suffered from LBP for > 1 year, the rest for > 3 months
  • At baseline, mean NRS was 5.43 and mean BQ was 39.80 points
  • NRS significantly decreased to 4.05 after 12 months but a significant reduction was not observed BEFORE 6 months after treatment start. So….it took time to see the difference. But don’t a lot of our evidence-informed crowd give you the poo face stink eye if you see patients more than just a couple of weeks? Food for thought judgy judgers!!
  • Now, the Bourneouth Questionnaire – it significantly diminished to 29 points after 12 months and showed a significant reduction in just the first month after treatment started. 
  • Also, the proportion of those showing overall improvement significantly increased from 23% after 1 week of treatment up to 47% after 1 month of treatment. 

Wrap It Up

“Chiropractic treatment is a valuable conservative treatment modality associated with clinically relevant improvement in approximately half of patients with chronic LBP. These findings provide an example of the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in the treatment of chronic back pain patients.”

That’s some great info right there folks. Ingest it. Roll it around. Not everyone on Facebook has all of the answers. Not even your mentors have ALL of the right answers. We all have to find our own way don’t we? I know I did. 

And we all have to keep learning. Neuroplasticity is real. We keep learning. We keep growing and hopefully we keep altering our perception of what is and what can be. Research helps us do that don’t you agree?

This week, I want you to go forward with…..

Key Takeaways


Part of making your life easier is having the right patient education tools in your office. Tools that educate based on solid, researched information. We offer you that. It’s done for you. We are taking pre-orders right now for our brand new, evidence-based office brochures available at Just click the STORE link at the top right of the home page and you’ll be off and running. Just shoot me an email at [email protected] if something is out of sorts or isn’t working correctly. 

If you’re like me, you get tired of answering the same old questions. Well, these brochures make great ways of educating while saving yourself time and breath. They’re also great for putting in take-home folders. 

Go check them out at under the store link. While you’re there, sign up for the newsletter won’t you? We won’t spam you. Just one email per week to remind you when the new episode comes out. That’s it. 

Chiropractic evidence-based products
Integrating Chiropractors
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The Message

I want you to know with absolute certainty that when Chiropractic is at its best, you can’t beat the risk vs reward ratio because spinal pain is primarily a movement-related pain and typically responds better to movement-related treatment instead of chemical treatments like pills and shots.

When compared to the traditional medical model, research and clinical experience show that many patients get good or excellent results through chiropractic for headaches, neck pain, back pain, joint pain, to name just a few.

Chiropractic care is safe and cost-effective. It can decrease instances of surgery & disability. Chiropractors normally do this through conservative, non-surgical means with minimal time requirements or hassle to the patient. 

And, if the patient develops a “preventative” mindset going forward from initial recovery, chiropractors can likely keep it that way while raising the general, overall level of health of the patient!

Key Point:

Patients should have the guarantee of having the best treatment offering the least harm.

That’s Chiropractic!


Send us an email at dr dot williams at and let us know what you think of our show or tell us your suggestions for future episodes. Feedback and constructive criticism is a blessing and so are subscribes and excellent reviews on iTunes and other podcast services. Y’all know how this works by now so help if you don’t mind taking a few seconds to do so.

Help us get to the top of podcasts in our industry. That’s how we get the message out. 


We can’t wait to connect with you again next week. From the Chiropractic Forward Podcast flight deck, this is Dr. Jeff Williams saying upward, onward, and forward. 


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About the Author & Host

Dr. Jeff Williams – Chiropractor in Amarillo, TX, Chiropractic Advocate, Author, Entrepreneur, Educator, Businessman, Marketer, and Healthcare Blogger & Vlogger


  • Axen I, R. A., Robech R, Wren T, Leboeuf-Yde C, (2002). “Can patient reactions to the first chiropractic treatment predict early favorable treatment outcome in persistent low back pain?” J Man Physiol Ther 25(7): 450-454.
  • Wirth B (2019). “An observational study on trajectories and outcomes of chronic low back pain patients referred from a spine surgery division for chiropractic treatment.” BMC Chiro Man Ther 6.
  • Zhong M, L. J., Jiang H, (2017). “Incidence of Spontaneous Resorption of Lumbar Disc Herniation: A Meta-Analysis.” Pain Physician 20(1): E45-E52.

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